Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Stated versus inferred beliefs: A methodological inquiry and experimental test

Rutstrom, E. Elizabet and Wilcox, Nathaniel (2008): Stated versus inferred beliefs: A methodological inquiry and experimental test.

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Abstract

If asking subjects their beliefs during repeated game play changes the way those subjects play, using those stated beliefs to evaluate and compare theories of strategic behavior is problematic. We experimentally verify that belief elicitation can alter paths of play in a repeated asymmetric matching pennies game. In this setting, belief elicitation improves the goodness of fit of structural models of belief learning, and the prior beliefs implied by such structural models are both stronger and more realistic when beliefs are elicited than when they are not. These effects are, however, confined to the player type who sees a strong asymmetry between payoff possibilities for her two strategies in the game. We also find that “inferred beliefs” (beliefs estimated from past observed actions of opponents) can be better predictors of observed actions than the “stated beliefs” resulting from belief elicitation.

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